Survivor winners: Ranking all 45 Sole Survivors by season

Photo: Monty Brinton/CBS ©2019 CBS Broadcasting, Inc. All Rights Reserved
Photo: Monty Brinton/CBS ©2019 CBS Broadcasting, Inc. All Rights Reserved /
39 of 45
Survivor, Tony Vlachos, Survivor Winners at War episode 11
Survivor legend Tony Vlachos – (Photo: Screen Grab/CBS Entertainment ©2020 CBS Broadcasting, Inc. All Rights Reserved) /

Best Survivor Winners No. 7: Tony Vlachos (Survivor Cagayan)

A player like Tony Vlachos isn’t supposed to win. He defied all logic, getting the Russell Hantz villain edit that a player who makes big moves at all costs, at the expense of his alliances, only to get no votes at the final tribal council, deserves. Instead, however, he didn’t lose. He served as a valuable leader who would instill trust in you even though you knew he was lying to your face.

There has never been a player as outwardly villainous, yet likable, as Tony Vlachos. He did everything he could to go against his cop-like image, playing like the true criminal he despised at heart.

He found three hidden immunity idols within the same season, holding control of the game with a third idol that let him play it and be safe after the votes were ready. More importantly, he’s so good at lying he convinced others that their powers extended beyond the realm of reasonability.

He’s such a good liar because he has those cop-like reads on people. He pretty much ran the tribal version of the D.E.N.N.I.S. system, demonstrating value to his tribe, engaging physically in challenges, nurturing dependence in himself with moves that got people on his side, neglecting their emotions, inspiring hope in others before separating those players entirely away from the game.

And, just like Dennis Reynolds, Tony did so with a sheepish grin that somehow made you feel like it was an alright, humble strategy to begin with.